What is the Difference Between Recreational and Medical Marijuana?
If you’re familiar with Piece of Mind Cannabis, you may know that some of our Washington dispensary locations are medically endorsed. We obtained our medical endorsement at select locations by meeting the Department of Health’s requirements, and this allows us to serve qualified medical marijuana users. But what is the difference between recreational and medical marijuana, anyway?
July 27, 2021
We talked to David LaMoureaux, our medical manager, to see what the difference is between these two types of classifications.
Is medical marijuana different from recreational marijuana? Do customers shop in the same location and have access to the same products?
David: Most of the products are available to patients and recreational customers aside from a few products that have higher concentrations of THC in edibles or more than 1 gram of concentrate in a package.
These few products are designated for medical marijuana users only. Washington state law allows adults over the age of 21 to purchase and possess up to one ounce of cannabis. Possession of higher amounts can lead to civil penalties, misdemeanors, and even felony charges.
The rules are different for medical marijuana users in the state. Medical marijuana patients who have entered the state’s voluntary patient database are able to possess up to 48 ounces of infused marijuana products in solid form, three ounces of usable marijuana (flower), 216 ounces of product in liquid form, or up to 21 grams of marijuana concentrates.
The products set aside at our medically endorsed dispensaries solely for medical patients contain more than the legal possession limit for recreational users. Medical marijuana users are allowed to possess more because their conditions may require higher amounts of THC or other cannabinoids to provide relief.
This brings us to our next question for Dave:
What does a medical endorsement allow your dispensaries to do?
Dave: medically endorsed stores are allowed to sell 3x the amount of product to medical patients compared to recreational consumers. We are able to remove sales tax from the sale of the products, take a loss on the sale, and even give free products to patients.
Medically endorsed stores are also able to carry medically compliant products from producers/processors. Medical consultants can process patient’s medical recommendations from their doctor into the state database, allowing patients to grow up to 15 plants and purchase their maximum amount of product each visit.
As you can see, there are a lot of perks to the medical endorsement. The biggest benefit is that it allows Piece of Mind Cannabis to fully support and care for our medical marijuana-using customers.
Additionally, access to medical consultants that can process information into the state database and allow users to grow their own cannabis is very important. In Washington state, home cultivation of marijuana is not permitted. The only exception is for medical marijuana users who are entered into the state database. We take care of that.
What happens when medical patients come to shop at Piece of Mind Cannabis?
Dave: If the patient needs to have their doctor’s recommendation entered into Secure Access Washington (secure state database) we schedule an appointment to do so. After the medical card is made we will verify the medical card before each transaction to ensure the doctor’s credentials are still active and process the sale.
Piece of Mind Cannabis follows all HIPAA laws to ensure the privacy of all patients.
Medical endorsements are not required for Washington dispensaries. Why do some locations have endorsements?
Dave: We have always been supportive of the benefits cannabis has offered to medical patients. When the state merged the medical market into the recreational market, we wanted to do our part to provide solid products and education to patients exploring the new market and advocate for their needs the best we can.
According to Dave, the most common conditions that people seek medical marijuana for are intractable pain, diseases that result in nausea, and cancer. With our medical endorsement, we can help these patients access higher amounts of marijuana without any sales tax.
Any tips for first-time medical patients or those considering becoming one?
Dave: Ask your healthcare provider if cannabis can benefit your medical needs. If so, get a recommendation and bring it into any of our medically endorsed stores to get your medical card made.
Ask any of our medical consultants for advice on products that could benefit your needs and try to keep packages of products that are helpful, so you have a good point of reference for future purchases.
The market is still working towards consistency and some products are not always available. Knowing what has worked can be helpful for us to help find similar products if that one is not available at the next visit. Ask about our medical programs to see if you could qualify for benefits our stores offer for patients.
If you are considering using marijuana for a medical condition, check out our guide on how to get a medical marijuana card.
You must have one of the following conditions to be considered for a medical marijuana card:
- Multiple sclerosis
- Epilepsy or other seizure disorders
- Spasticity disorders
- Intractable pain that is unrelieved by standard treatments
- Crohn’s disease, if debilitating symptoms are not relieved with standard treatments
- Hepatitis C with nausea or pain unrelieved by standard treatments
- Anorexia or other illnesses that cause nausea, vomiting, wasting, appetite loss, muscle spasms, etc.
- Chronic renal failure requiring hemodialysis
- Traumatic brain injury
In Washington state, mental health conditions do not qualify for medical marijuana use.
The bottom line
There is no difference in quality between medical and recreational marijuana. The difference is in the legal limitations and different privileges given to medical patients who may have different needs than recreational users. Patients are able to purchase higher concentrations of marijuana in larger quantities, without having to pay sales tax.
Additionally, medical marijuana users may grow their own cannabis, which is not permitted for other adults in the state.
At Piece of Mind Cannabis, we are happy to help both our recreational and medical customers. We have a passion for all things surrounding this plant, including the freedom it allows many medical patients to live their lives with reduced pain or discomfort.
Stop by Piece of Mind Cannabis and say high today!